With the start of April, I wanted to challenge myself to work on something creative every day. Here’s how it went.
First, I’m a liar.
I didn’t actually work on something every day because I mostly took weekends off. Also, if I found myself staring into a black abyss of meaninglessness and depression, I ended up taking the weekday off, too.
Creativity’s Unbreakable Rule #1: you can’t force creativity.
So let me tell you how I forced creativity.
A disclaimer: it helps to not have anything else to do. Although I set this challenge for myself first, shortly afterwards I was furloughed from my job as a video editor at Visit Orlando. A lot of people look at unemployment and quarantine as the worst possible time to “finish that novel” and these people are not wrong! I personally dove into the aforementioned abyss, ate a box of donuts, and cried myself to sleep while rewatching old episodes of Psych.
Three days later, I hit peak boredom. This is a brilliant phase of life that precedes an even more brilliant period of creative productivity--a period where you’ve gotten so bored doing every imaginable un-creative thing possible (including sorting and throwing out that pile of old mail and cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen) that you have absolutely nothing else better to do than stare at a flashing cursor on a blank screen.
My friends, peak boredom is one of those massive bean bags that sucks you deeper and deeper into its squishy abyss.
This. Is. A gift.
The rules for my creative every day challenge were as follows:
Work would be split amongst the two categories of writing and video projects.
Writing projects were either short stories or musings. Video projects were split into animation projects, short stories for YouTube (a teleprompter-based dramatic performance of sorts), long-form Behind the Final Cut vlogs, and miscellaneous work (such as my “Creative Wizard” title sequence for YouTube or the animated title cards for my written short stories).
All of this work was meticulously tracked in my production schedule board on Trello--and I’m pretty sure this is a big reason April went as well as it did.
Friends, it’s one thing to do the work but it is something else altogether to see the cumulative total of all the work. Trello does that for you--especially if you’re like me, a jack-of-all trades creative that loves doing a little bit of everything.
The other component of this challenge was to share a finished project every day.
What did I learn in the first month? Again: I’m a liar.
I think I did an okay job maintaining a 24-hour period, but my typical day isn’t a nine-to-five jam.
(Remember, we can’t force creativity, so we have to figure out ways to hack our lives to make it flow with more ease.)
My best case writing example was, “The Insufferable Silence in Apartment 616”. I spent the day writing this 2400-word tome in a midday and then a nighttime burst. I posted it late the next morning after doing the graphic design work on the title card. So, kinda-sorta within a 24-hour period, with the graphic design caveat.
My worst case writing example was “Red Alert in the Department of Human Asset Management & Existential Mitigation”. Marginally shorter than “Insufferable” but legit took a few days to write.
Definitely not abiding the “share every day” rule, but I still worked on it every day.
To that end, even the days when I didn’t post something, I was still taking notes, plotting, or giving my creative fuel tank a chance to refill.
Here’s what I actually created in April.
Of nineteen total projects, ten were videos. Eight of those videos went up on YouTube (the other two were title sequence/animation pieces).
8. Wizard of Speed and Time Vinyl Unboxing
7. Quarantine’s End Short Story
6. Tiger King Quotes
5. Trello and the Art of Creative Project Management
4. The LEGO Wizard Digs a Fossil
2. The LEGO Wizard Builds a Car; a T. Rex Stomps a Car
1. Stygimoloch vs Raptor Fetus
The remaining nine projects were in the writing category, totaling 12,614 words. Seven short stories and two musings.
9. The Insufferable Silence in Apartment 616
8. Red Alert in the Department of Human Asset Management and Existential Mitigation
7. Explorers of the Unknown vs the Last Gift Shop on the Left
6. A Sinful Pivot
5. Thoughts on 35: Birthdays in the Time of the Pandemic
4. Karen Finds a Hobby
3. Max Nebula and the Simpering Spark of Hope
2. Quarantine’s End: Smoke ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em
1. There’s Just So Much Noise
Here are a few more things I learned:
- I like to write to read. Like, aloud. Firstly, I think it just sounds better in your head. Secondly, one of my video projects is to adapt my short stories for YouTube, so I’m basically writing a video script each time I sit down at the keyboard.
- The screenwriter in me prefers to write (mostly) only essential description. It speeds up the process and, I’d like to think, helps engage the reader. When I offer a short, three-sentence description of Jason in “The Last Gift Shop on the Left”, I’m painting a very broad tough-guy image and letting your imagination fill in the details.
Jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket. Strong features and a stronger chin. He wore his hair long and in a ponytail because manly men have pony tails.
- I’m a big fan of the em-dash. Like, seriously.
- The volume of complications in video work is the fastest way to psych yourself out of doing anything at all. Even when I’m not producing, I’m outlining my stop motion sequences, arranging sets, placing lights, setting up shots.
- There’s a saying that goes, “The hardest part about running is putting on your shoes.” The same is true for any creative work, which is why I spend a lot of time making it as easy as possible to just get started. That’s also why as soon as I have an idea for something, it goes on my Trello board--I’m never casting about for the next thing to work on because I have an entire catalog with ripe ideas waiting to be plucked.
Despite the pandemic outside, despite the unemployment, despite uncertain futures, April was a good month for me. It was good because at the end of the day--hopefully every day--I want to feel like I did something creative.
Stay creative. Stay quarantined. And be gentle to yourselves, my friends.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jordan Krumbine is a professional video editor, digital artist, and creative wizard currently quarantined in Kissimmee, Florida. When not producing content for the likes of Visit Orlando, Orlando Sentinel, or AAA National, Jordan is probably yelling at a stubbornly defective Macbook keyboard, tracking creative projects in Trello, and animating quirky videos with LEGO and other various toys.